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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Hail, Caesar!’

17 March 2016
Hail, Caesar! 
directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.
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... previously mentioned Merrily We Dance, an adaptation of a Broadway play already in production with Ralph Fiennes as the director. The joke seems crude – Gene Autry meets Noël Coward, say – but the tone here, as in the rest of the film, has those curious qualities the Coen brothers specialise in. Everything is slow, a little obvious, and whatever is ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘The Constant Gardener’

3 November 2005
... the British and Kenyan governments. The story has now been made into a film by Fernando Meirelles. Ralph Fiennes stars as Justin Quayle, a modest functionary at the British High Commission in Nairobi, whose young wife, Tessa, played by Rachel Weisz, is an embarrassment to the authorities and a heroine in Kibera, a shantytown of approximately a million ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

16 April 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
directed by Wes Anderson.
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... it.’ Who’s he? He is the manager of the Grand Budapest Hotel, one Monsieur Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes in a very funny campy mode that manages to be both humane and ironic, the real fey thing and its parody. But the world that vanished before Monsieur Gustave entered it belongs to Stefan Zweig, whom Anderson at the end of the movie credits as an ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Skyfall’

22 November 2012
directed by Sam Mendes.
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... earnestly impersonate) is M again, but her career is about to be terminated, as a smooth-talking Ralph Fiennes tells us. When Bond reappears from his apparent death, he looks terrible, and has no doubt kept himself gaunt and unshaved as a reproach to M – she did after all tell a British agent to take a shot at him. He says that both of them have been ...

Why do you make me do it?

David Bromwich: Robert Ryan

18 February 2016
... of the role of peacemaker stripped of his manhood. I wondered at the sudden shift of feeling when Ralph Fiennes, in his recent Coriolanus, sank to his knees for the terrible and pathetic line ‘O mother, mother!/What have you done?’ – as if this were a surrender and tragic reproach by the ‘boy of tears’. One would like to know how Ryan handled ...

Speaking British

Thomas Jones

30 March 2000
The Third Woman 
by William Cash.
Little, Brown, 318 pp., £14.99, February 2000, 0 316 85405 0
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Greene on Capri: A Memoir 
by Shirley Hazzard.
Virago, 149 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 1 86049 799 3
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... their first date, they haven’t kissed yet and they don’t have the exchange about the meat. Ralph Fiennes, looking bored over their steak and onions, says to Julianne Moore: ‘I’m in love, you know.’ She, equally wooden, tells him that she is, too. (Moore, who can be very good, seems to be concentrating so hard on her accent that she forgets ...


Elif Batuman: Pamuk’s Museum

7 June 2012
... have to stop and ask yourself what are the odds that Eugene Onegin happened to look exactly like Ralph Fiennes, and yet a teapot from the right historical period is a real part of the world that created the character and plot. If you had enough of the textile samples and magazine pictures and sofas, maybe you could re-create the insect. When Kemal ...
23 October 1986
Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Maria Dowling.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 7099 0864 4
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Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance 
by Roy Strong.
Thames and Hudson, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 500 01375 6
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Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 
by Derek Hirst.
Arnold, 390 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 7131 6155 8
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Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660 
by G.E. Aylmer.
Oxford, 274 pp., £12.50, February 1986, 0 19 219179 9
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Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
by J.P. Sommerville.
Longman, 254 pp., £6.95, April 1986, 9780582494329
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... occasional errors, but this one contains enough to drive a reviewer to record some of them. Sir Ralph Winwood has become ‘Sir Henry’, benefit of clergy did not only apply to males, Bedford was never a member of the Providence Company, and we do not have a stable baseline for undergraduate numbers in the mid-16th century. It is not true that no statutes ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange

6 March 2014
... from Hay. Reactions to his appearance were mixed. He was described as looking puffy and unkempt. Ralph Fiennes, who was in the audience, described the event as ‘compelling’ but suggested it also made him feel deeply uncomfortable. On 5 June​ I picked Julian up at Ellingham Hall and drove him to the police station. He got into the car with the ...

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